Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Great diet tips

Little things can make a difference:

Diet Res-Illusions: Tips from the pros on how to lose weight

We make ’em, we break ’em. New Year’s diet resolutions fall like needles on Christmas trees as January goes on. Genes can work against us. Metabolism, too. But a food behavior researcher has tested a bunch of little ways to tip the scale toward success.

His advice: Put it on autopilot. Make small changes in the kitchen, at the grocery store and in restaurants to help you make good choices without thinking.

“As much as we all want to believe that we’re master and commander of all our food decisions, that’s just not true for most of us,” said the researcher, Brian Wansink. “We’re influenced by the things around us — the size of the plate, the things people are doing … the lighting.”

He heads the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, has written books on taking control of food choices, and has had government and industry funding.

Some tips are gimmicks, and some may not work as well for you as they did in tests. But they “make a lot of sense” and many are backed by other studies, said one independent expert, Dr. William Yancy, a weight specialist at Duke University’s diet and fitness center.

To start: Make goals that are SMART — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound, Yancy said. Instead of resolving to eat better, plan how to do it, such as having chips once or twice a week instead of every day. Rather than vague vows to get in shape, resolve to walk half an hour every day after dinner.

Other tips from Wansink and research to support them:

IN THE KITCHEN

Redo the pantry to put healthy stuff in front. You’re three time more likely to eat the first food you see than the fifth one.

Tidy your kitchen before eating. Women asked to wait in a messy kitchen ate twice as many cookies as women in the same kitchen did when it was organized and quiet.

Redo the fridge. Even though it shortens shelf life, move fruits and vegetables out of crisper drawers and put them at eye level. Keep good foods in clear bags or containers and less healthy things like leftover pizza in aluminum foil. In one study, people who put fruits and vegetables on the top shelf ate nearly three times more of them than they did the week before.

Keep no food out except a fruit bowl. Researchers photographed 210 kitchens to see whether countertop food reflects the weight of women in each home. Those who left breakfast cereal out weighed 20 pounds more than neighbors who didn’t; those with soft drinks out weighed 24 to 26 pounds more. Those with a fruit bowl weighed 13 pounds less.

AT THE TABLE

Beware the glassware. Use narrower glasses, pour wine when the glass is on the table rather than in your hand, and use a glass that doesn’t match the color of the wine. A study found that people poured 12 percent more wine when using a wide glass, 12 percent more when holding the glass, and 9 percent more when pouring white wine into a clear glass versus a colored or opaque one. Pour any glass only half full — this cuts the average pour by 18 percent.

Use smaller plates and pay attention to color. Big plates make portions look small. In one study, people given larger bowls took 16 percent more cereal than those given smaller bowls, yet thought they ate less. People also take more food if it matches the color of their plate. But they eat less when the tablecloth or placemat matches the plate; it makes the food stand out more.

Keep the TV off and eat at a table. A study of dinner habits of 190 parents and 148 children found that the higher the parents’ body mass index (a ratio of height and weight), the more likely they were to eat with the TV on. Eating at a table was linked to lower BMI.

Try small portions of “bad” foods. Eat a bite or two, then distract yourself for 15 minutes to see if you feel satisfied. A study gave people different portions of chocolate, apple pie and potato chips and had them rate hunger and craving before and 15 minutes after eating. Bigger portion folks ate 103 calories more, but didn’t feel more satisfied than those given less.

AT THE GROCERY STORE

Divide your shopping cart in half. Use a partition, purse or coat for a visual cue to fill at least half of your cart with fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. In two studies, half of shoppers were given divided carts and told to put healthier items in front. They spent more on produce than those given regular shopping carts.

Be careful when buying in bulk . A study found that people who bought big containers of chips, juice boxes, cookies, crackers and granola bars ate half of it within the first week — twice as fast as they normally would. Tip: Repackage into single-serve bags or containers, or store it out of reach, such as the basement.

Eat an apple first. People given a sample of an apple at the store increased spending on fruits and vegetables versus those given no sample or a cookie. A healthy snack may prime people to buy better foods, not the fast, processed foods they gravitate to when shopping hungry.

Circle every island in the produce section. In a study of 1,200 shoppers, every minute spent in the produce section meant $1.80 more in fruit and vegetable sales.

AT A RESTAURANT

Let the light shine. Researchers checked sales receipts of patrons at four casual chain restaurants. Those in brighter rooms were more likely to order healthier fish, vegetables or white meat rather than fried food or dessert. Diners in dim rooms ordered 39 percent more calories.

Sit near a window. Researchers analyzed 330 diners’ receipts after they left. The closer they were to a window, the fewer foods and alcoholic drinks they ordered.

Ask for a to-go box in advance. Half of diners in a study were told before they ordered that the portions were big and that they could have a doggie bag. Those told in advance wound up taking more food home. To-go boxes encourage people to eat about a third less.

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Marilynn Marchione can be followed at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP

February 28, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, diet, health, lifehack | , | Leave a comment

Eat soup to lose weight

Great tip for feeling fuller on less calories: start your meal with a thick low-cal soup.  The article below explains. (I got myself an immersion blender, which makes great pureed soups with minimum effort)

The Weird Reason You Should Eat More Soup

And why it sometimes has an edge over solid food

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January 2, 2017 Posted by | diet, health | , | Leave a comment

Your environment can help you lose weight

“Food cues. They make you eat more.” — Hedy Kober, Yale University

Removing temptations (sight or smell) from your environment can go a long way to achieve your diet goals.  You can’t do it everywhere, but where you can, such as your home or office desk, it’s an easy way to regulate your hedonic reward system and avoid unwanted calories. Details on how it works:

Why You Can’t Resist the Office Doughnuts

By Tamar Haspel | October 06, 2016 | Discover

To lose that extra weight, think less about food and more about environment.

October 20, 2016 Posted by | diet, health | , | Leave a comment

Mind over matter: psychology over calorie-counting

Interesting idea of how to lose weight relatively effortlessly without counting calories (warning: you still have to watch what you eat) by letting your own body dictate how much you eat.

Seems pretty sensible and worth a try.

The hunger mood

Hunger isn’t in your stomach or your blood-sugar levels. It’s in your mind – and that’s where we need to shape up

by Michael Graziano | Edited by Ed Lake  | 18 January, 2016 | Aeon

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January 22, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, diet, health, psychology | , , , | 1 Comment

Counting calories? Don’t bother

More and more evidence that it is not the number of calories we eat that is important to keep us healthy, but the kind of foods we eat.  Read the article on Time’s site in order to watch the corresponding video.

You Asked: Should I Count Calories?

Markham Heid | Oct. 14, 2015 | Time Magazine

Even if you could do it accurately—and you really can’t—counting calories is unhelpful for weight loss and disease prevention.

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October 20, 2015 Posted by | diet, health | , , | Leave a comment

Processed Food Makes You Fatter

Although the article below focuses on calorie labeling, I thought the most important point it makes is how processing of any kind increases calories available to our bodies.

Why Most Calorie Counts Are Wrong

By Richard Wrangham and Rachel Carmody, Harvard University | January 5, 2015 | Discover magazine

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September 12, 2015 Posted by | diet, health, nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss”

You cannot always believe what the newspapers write.  Or what scientific journals write.

I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.

John Bohannon | 5/27/15 | io9.com

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May 31, 2015 Posted by | nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

How to curb hunger pangs with your mind

Try focusing on enjoying your food while you are eating it, and then remember the experience before you start eating something else.  No guarantees, but preliminary studies show it works. From BBC Future:

How to curb hunger pangs with your mind

David Robson | 22 January 2015 | BBC Future
There may be a simple way to lose weight using only the power of thought. You just have to know how, says David Robson.

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February 14, 2015 Posted by | behaviour, diet, health | , , , | 1 Comment